The Holiday Season is upon us. That means spending time with loved ones near and far. Enjoy a delicious dinner, exchange gifts, sip eggnog by the fire. Watching the snow fall from the heavens making your neighborhood look like a postcard. Well not exactly. What that really means is you are forced to see family members you have likely avoided all year (yeah we know you really didn’t have mono, suspiciously the same exact day of that baby shower), wondering if the turkey you are buying is a left over from Thanksgiving. Trying to justify that buying a gift card is not a tacky gift. Just what IS eggnog anyway? Will this fire give me a lung infection? And snow isn’t pretty when you have to shovel it and it nearly kills you on your way to and from work.
Merry Christmas. Or if that offends you, Happy Holidays. Oh that’s offensive too! Please tell me what religion you practice so I can study it’s culture for years as to not offend you when I pretend to care enough to give you a seasonal greeting. Does the Christma….er Holiday Tree’s lights still work? Why are they so tangled? Why do I bother keeping last year’s when I know as sure as Misses Claus is having an affair with an elf, that they’re not going to work the following year?
Then there’s the ‘Elf On A Shelf’ pics all over social media. Golly gee! He sure is a silly little guy, showing up in the most random places! Oh how original! You made it look like he is doing a line of coke with naked Barbies as strippers! How about all your pseudo-religious friends wanting to preach the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas all the while playing up every single cliché of the most superficial, heartless trend that’s been popular for the last 100 years? The same ones who think there is some ‘war on Christmas’ because Starbucks cups are red and the old lady greeting people at the door of Walmart said “Happy Holidays” to you on your way out from buying $200 worth of Starbucks giftcards to pass out to the family members you dread seeing.
Let’s face it: Christmas isn’t a holiday we enjoy, it’s a holiday we have to deal with. You know what’s one of the worst things about the whole ordeal? Having to endure the atrocious Christmas themed pop songs on the radio, in the stores, social gatherings, and in outer-space probably. They’re everywhere! Do people really even enjoy these abominations or is just because they are forced upon us so hard we develop this twisted Stockholm’s Syndrome? Well being that you have put up with my Ba-humbugging this far in this article, let’s take a look at some of the worst crimes against you humanity we have to hear every single year.
This is my personal list I like to call, All I Want For Christmas Is EWWW.
N’Sync – “Merry Christmas Happy Holidays”
For the kiddies who didn’t know, before Justin Timberlake was the white Usher (or the black Michael Bublé, depending on what era of his solo career is still relevant) he was scrawny Top Ramen haired kid in a boy band. When you’re in a boy band, Christmas is an important holiday. There were plenty of N’Sync dolls and lunchboxes to be sold, and what better soundtrack than a bland and corny holiday cash-in like this song? There’s nothing that stands out as overly bad, it’s just criminally bland and soulless. It’s hard to explain the kind of corny it is without watching the God-awful music video. It looks like Old Navy threw up on Saved By The Bell. Ugh I’m glad the 90s are dead.
Britney Spears – “My Only Wish This Year”
Speaking of the 90s, Mariah Carey OWNED them with her holiday hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” So of course the next wave of disposable pop-tarts had to emulate the success of that song for their holiday season. “My Only Wish This Year” is your run of the mill ‘bring my baby back’ cheese just about every Christmas pop song is about, complete with it’s early 60s R&B chord progression and sugary backing vocals. It even has a hand clap driven break. You know while on the subject, why do so many Christmas pop songs rely on the Phil Spector Christmas influence? Oh yeah, because those songs were good. This song isn’t. Spears was never my thing, but man this song is so painful! I almost feel bad for her. I wonder if she feels bad for me for having to hear this at least twelve times every single time I go to the mall from November through December?
John “Cougar” Mellancamp – “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
It’s bad enough when artists over sing oldies, but ruining the songs by trying too hard is a different beast. John Mellancamp was bent on taking this mediocre holiday novelty and turning it into one of the most annoying pieces of music ever put to tape. Why the faux-country styling? Why does it look like he is trying to look like Brad Dourif as the singer of INXS in the music video? Why do I get the uncontrollable urge to throat punch anyone who says Santa Claus as Sanny Clawz? The lyrics of this song were always unsettling to me. Think about it: A kid sneaks down stairs and sees his mother making out with Santa. Of course he doesn’t realize it’s his dad, so that basically means this song is about catching Mom in the act of infidelity on the happiest time of the year. Merry Christmas kid.
(various artists) – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
It’s a Christmas standard. Every artist from Dean Martin to the cast of Glee has done it. Not only is it annoying and over played but has anyone actually realized that the lyrics insinuate date-rape? The line “What’s in this drink?” says it all. Wow. A Christmas song that doubles as a date rape anthem. There HAS to be a Bill Cosby version somewhere in this world. Have a holly jolly Christmas indeed!
WHAM! – “Last Christmas”
If you listen to this song back to back with another WHAM! hit “Everything She Wants,” it was pretty obvious George Michael seemingly picked the wrong partner. I wonder if this is about the same person? Did you know more people get depressed around the holiday season than any other part of the year? What a downer. Technically this song isn’t really that bad, but what kills it is how much it’s played. Seriously, there could be drinking games based on how many times this song gets airplay. Why? It’s pretty average and doesn’t even have a real hook. What makes this song so important to the holiday season? Is it because it *could* actually be about re-gifting? Whatever it is, make it stop. I’ve had enough.
Train – “Joy To The World”
I’ve always thought “Joy To The World” was always one of the most boring Christmas songs ever. That’s not a dig at the subject matter, but the song itself is just dull. Which is odd because Train is pretty much one of the most unexciting rock bands in history. They are not boring in a Coldplay sense, but more like a less annoying Maroon 5, but not as good as Matchbox Twenty kind of way. What makes their version of this song so embarrassing, is the fact they gratuitously throw in the chorus of one of their previous hits “Calling All Angels”when you least expect it. Have they no shame? It’s like they are saying “Hey here’s a song about baby Jesus…..remember this hook? aww yeah”. Just…no.
Mannheim Steamroller – “Deck The Halls”
This rendition of this song makes my teeth hurt. Christmas music should invoke feelings of warm and fuzziness, comfort and love, not the soundtrack to Marble Madness. Did you know Mannheim Steamroller has sold over 40 million albums world wide? Did you know this is one of their most beloved songs? This is a sick, sad world.
Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
I know I sound like a total A-hole for saying it’s terrible. Especially when it’s whole purpose was to pull together the who’s who of England in 1984 and feed all sorts of starving AIDS stricken people in Africa, but you know who else is an A-hole? Bono. Want proof? The lyric “well tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you!” Wow. What a profound lyric in a song about people starving to death. I also take issue with the chorus “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” Well if they’re starving to death and dying with AIDS, knowing whether it’s Christmas or not is probably the least of their worries.
Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmas Time”
Ugh. just…..ugh. I seriously can’t think of any words to describe the way this song makes me feel. It’s cheesy, it’s corny, it’s just….BAD. There’s almost this surreal nightmare-ish quality about it. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I’m certain the keyboard riff in this song has been the soundtrack to some kid’s nightmare somewhere. This comes from Paul McCartney of all people! The man responsible for some of music’s greatest compositions like “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude.” Even a song like “Rocky Raccoon” makes this song look pleasant. For God’s sake man, you were a Beatle! Act like it!
(various artists) – “Santa Baby”
Then there’s this. The most unholy abomination to mankind. Not only is it by far the worst Christmas song, but one of the worst songs of all time. Period! I’ve always hated it. One year on my letter to Santa, one of my requests was to never hear this song again. Okay that’s a mild exaggeration, I didn’t write that but it was sorely missed opportunity. First off, the lyrics are about this woman trying to seduce Santa Claus into giving her all of these superficial things like Tiffany’s decorations for the Christmas tree, diamond rings, a convertible, and a freakin’ yacht. Yes my friends a yacht. I understand it’s a novelty song and it’s pokin fun at the absurdity of what Christmas has become, but come on! Does it have to be this annoying with so many covers? The Madonna version, sounding like a drunk Betty Boop impression, seems to be the most popular, but even the earliest version by Ertha Kitt, sucks. Taylor Swift’s version is probably the worst though. Her tiny voice being compensated with a faster arrangement makes it sound like a 5th grader’s Holiday recital. No matter who sings it, it always sounds like some underage kid trying to be sexy and seductive. God that sounds so wrong to write that, let alone sing it so shamelessly. There’s even a Michael Bublé version but the less said about that version the better. This song is one of the main reasons I’ve grown to hate the holidays. I know no matter where I go, whether it’s Macy’s or the bathroom at Denny’s, I know I will hear it at some point. It’s ruining Christmas. It has to be stopped.
There you have it. That’s my most hated Christmas songs. There are plenty more no doubt, like the Bob Seger or Bruce Springsteen versions of “Little Drummer Boy” and of course the horrid Christmas melody from Destiny’s Child deserves an honorable mention as well. The list goes on and on, but thankfully holiday music is seasonal and we don’t have to hear it year round. Maybe these songs wouldn’t be so bad if weren’t subject to hearing them so much? There’s plenty of good Christmas songs out there too! Play some of those for once! I even made a video last year, sharing my thoughts on a full cds worth of holiday music I actually enjoy. Check that out if you’re wondering.
All Grinch-ness aside, I don’t hate Christmas and I have plenty of good holiday memories I will cherish all my life. Getting a Super Nintendo when I was 9, or that killer Kinks boxset my Dad and Mom bought me when I was 15. Of course Christmas isn’t all about presents and Santa Claus and as cliché as it sounds, being with the ones you love is the greatest gift we can give to each other. Memories are priceless. I want to wish all of you readers a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and here’s to many more.
Oh and if I get a Mannheim Steamroller CD, even as a Secret Santa Gift, you’re house is getting burned down.
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.